Educating migrant children in England: Language and educational practices in home and school environments

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In multilingual societies where migration is commonplace, language attitudes and ideologies are often shaped by broader sociopolitical issues and sociocultural practices that give values to different languages and language uses. Migrant families are often caught in the middle regarding how to use their own language and culture to support their children’s academic development, and how to educate their children in the dominant societal/school language with which they are not familiar. This article reports on an on-going multilevel investigation of family language policies (FLPs) of transnational families in the UK. As part of this investigation, this study focuses on a group of eight families (10 parents) of different Chinese origins who send their children to one primary school and eight teachers who teach at that school. It provides a snapshot of the matches and mismatches of educational practices between home and school as well as the different expectations for educating migrant children with regard to the role of language(s) in learning and academic development from the perspectives of teachers and parents. Using a variety of tools for data collection including interviews, observations, a roundtable discussion, focus group interviews and e-mail communications, the study found that parents and teachers hold disparate views on educating migrant children with regard to language/literacy practices, educational expectations and parental involvements. Central to the disparate perspectives is the ‘language gap’ ideology which legitimatizes English as the only language in education, which allows teachers to control not only language use in classes but also the educational practices at home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-180
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Chinese parents
  • educational practices
  • language gap
  • migrant children
  • parental involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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